V a n n  Thomas  P o w e l l  

    On Contentious Ground
    Looking for Lowery

    Points of Entry
    Rebirth of Tragedy
    Retracing Sherman

Vann is a Fine Art
Photographer and
Experimental Filmmaker

+1 919 638 9146
Based in Durham, NC


© Vann Thomas Powell 2023

ALAMANCE (2018-)

Perhaps before a place has a name, it holds no identity. The people of a place may give meaning to topography and culture to the ground.

Alamance County, North Carolina, sits at the crossroads of many historical, wild, and mundane occurrences. A perennial battleground, from the slaughter of british loyalists by the father of Robert E. Lee, the contemporary issues surrounding Confederate monuments, to a booming area of a state bent on economic progress at any cost, Alamance has existed as a place uniquely tied up in the history and struggle of our nation.

The word Alamance is said to have come from the Native American name for the pale, almost blue, clay at the bottom of the Big Alamance Creek that runs west to east through the county. Alamance, the creek, the namesake for this corner of North Carolina, has seen the rise and fall of peoples, structures, as well as the influence and power of faith come and go, pass and fade in and out of obscurity. Churches are built, homes are constructed then collapse; the rhythm of boom and bust plays out again and again, but one thing has remained constant, Alamance.

At what point does a name meld with the thing it is meant to demarcate? At what point do these letters and definitions become inseparable from the land they semantically map? What I look for in, Alamance, are the traces of movement and construct on these lands. The visual remainders and reminders of human toiling aimed to eke out meaning and identity in a place that is and always was doomed to fall back into dust. Collapsing and derelict structures stand as a reminder of years passed but also haunt the possible futures to come, whispering to us, “We have come to pass. By and by the marks and meanings made today will pass as well.”